“My disability exists not because I use a wheelchair, but because the broader environment isn’t accessible.” The person who said this is called Stella Young and she was, among other things, a disability activist. This quote describes the problem in society today. Some people with a disability, physical or mental, have trouble moving around in the cities because it is not adapted to them and this is a problem the politicians in our municipality have to face.
To get a better understanding on how the municipality work with these problems, we interviewed Henrik Harliz, who is a part of the municipal council for disability-questions. According to him, the biggest problem they have to solve is the accessibility to public spaces. Two examples he mentioned are the problem for visually impaired and wheelchair-bound people to get in and out of stores and the advertising signs that stands on the sidewalk. These signs are an extra big problem for people with visual impairments, because many times when they have to walk around it, they walk out on the street. However, the problems depends on the kind of disability and this is something Henrik and the other politicians have to have in mind.
The council he is a part of is exactly like it sounds, only a council. This means that they in reality don’t spend much money on supporting and helping these people. Instead, when they have discussed the problems and then decided something within the council, the politicians then try to affect their committee, who has the real power to change things. In spite of the fact that they don’t have much power themselves, they do have one thing that ease many disabled people’s everyday life, which is an accessibility database. This database contains information about the environment in many places around the city. All businesses can here tell about their accessibility, for example if they have or don’t have an elevator, how open the spaces are or if they have hearing aids.
The disabled people are a minority in the society and this can in many cases result in us forgetting about how the society is not always adapted to them. It is like Stella Young said, her disability exists because of the environment and not because she uses a wheelchair. The politicians work with these problems, but people also have to open their eyes and start to include the disabled in our community more.